Basalt’s sales tax revenue has pulled even with last year through May even though grocery-store sales are lagging behind, according to the town government’s latest report.
The town collected $1.89 million from December through May, according to the report. There are a couple of ways to put that into perspective. Sales tax revenue is down 0.4 percent from last year, but it’s higher than every other year, including pre-recession levels in 2008, the report showed.
The town collected $1.9 million from December through May 2013 and $1.83 million over the same period in 2008.
While the sales taxes generated by individual businesses aren’t divulged, the report shows that sales of retail food have taken a hit so far in 2014. Grocery-store sales were down 6.3 percent from December through May compared with the same period through 2013. Grocers produced sales tax revenue of $921,435 through May 2013. That dropped to $863,317 this year.
Last year was the first full year that Whole Foods Market was open, so the bar was set high for total sales as shoppers tried out the new store. A number of factors could be affecting sales this year, including the end of the honeymoon for Whole Foods. Sales of retail foods also may have been affected by Clark’s Market depleting its inventory in the spring, prior to its closure in June.
Grocery stores are Basalt’s biggest revenue producer. Other major economic sectors were mixed over the first half of the fiscal year. Sales by restaurants with bars were up 9.6 percent, while sales by restaurants without bars soared 37.4 percent through May, according to the town report.
Sales by stores in the general retail category were down 6.55 percent, but sporting-goods retail was up 16.3 percent.
Sales by stores selling building materials enjoyed their strongest start to a year since 2008. Sales tax revenue jumped 40.7 percent, from $79,337 through May 2013 to $111,658 through May this year. Stores in the category suffered through lean years from 2010 through 2013. They are bouncing back with the slow recovery of the construction industry.
Sales tax revenue from lodging was down 27.2 percent, but Basalt Mountain Inn, formerly known as the Green Drake, was closed for a remodel.
Sales in May were strong in every major category but lodging, suggesting the economy was heating up for summer. Overall sales were up 17 percent for the month compared with 2013. Sales by grocery stores were up 7.4 percent in May.
The May sales data are the latest available because of the reporting lag time.